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Astrophysics and Fundamental Physics Missions (SCI-FMA)

The Astrophysics and Fundamental Physics Missions Section (SCI-FMA), as part of the Advanced Payload and Mission Concepts Office, is responsible for system studies (phase 0/A) of the ESA Science Programme mission candidates in the fields of Astrophysics and Fundamental Physics. SCI-FMA is also supporting planning, monitoring and development of technology developments in the relevant science areas.

SCI-FMA has the following tasks:

  • Management of Astrophysics and Fundamental Physics missions in phase 0/A
  • Definition of mission and system requirements for industrial studies
  • Definition of the corresponding Technology Development Plans
  • Development of related technologies required for future missions, in close co-operation with the Technology Preparation Section (SCI-FT)
  • Conducting Technology Reference Studies in preparation for future calls for missions
  • Interfacing to external entities/International Partners when relevant
  • Definition and coordination of required support from ESA's Directorate of Technical and Quality Management (TEC) and ESA's European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) for the studies.

SCI-FMA is responsible for the assessment studies of numerous Cosmic Vision mission candidates, by providing the associated study managers. The studies presently being carried out are:

  • ATHENA (L2): The Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics (selected as L2, a large-class mission), currently in Phase A, featuring an X-ray telescope with high resolution spectroscopy and wide-field spectrally-resolved imaging significantly exceeding the performance of existing X-ray observatories.
  • Gravitational Wave Observatory (L3): A mission to detect and observe gravitational waves covering the frequency range from 0.1 mHz to 1 Hz.
  • ARIEL (M4 candidate): The Atmospheric Remote-Sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-Survey, currently in Phase A. ARIEL includes a 1-m class Telescope with a Near Infrared Spectrometer for ExoPlanet atmosphere composition measurement.
  • XIPE (M4 candidate): The X-ray Imaging and Polarimetry Explorer, currently in Phase A. XIPE is an X-ray telescope carrying three multi-shell Wolter I type mirrors and three polarimeters based on Gas Pixel Detector technology.

Past Studies

  • IXO, International X-ray Observatory, formerly known as XEUS, an L1-class candidate in cooperation with JAXA and NASA, representing the potential follow-on mission to XMM-Newton.
  • LOFT, The Large Observatory for X-ray Timing (medium-class candidate for the M3 slot).
  • ECHO, The Exoplanet Characterization Observatory (medium-class candidate for the M3 slot).
  • STE-QUEST, The Space-Time Explorer and QUantum Equivalence Principle Space Test (medium-class candidate for the M3 slot)
  • Euclid, a dark Universe observatory (medium-class candidate, later selected as for the second medium class (M2) launch opportunity)
  • PLATO, Planetary Transit and Oscillations of Stars (medium-class candidate, later selected for the third medium class (M3) launch opportunity).
  • SPICA, Space IR Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics, a JAXA-led mission to which ESA would contribute within an M-class envelope.

Completed Technology Reference Studies (preparation for Cosmic Vision activities) performed by SCI-FMA:

  • CMB Polarisation Mission (2016)
  • New Generation Cryo-IR telescope (2014)
  • Exoplanet Spectroscopy Mission (2010)
  • Gamma Ray Lens (2007)
  • Wide Field Imager (2006)
  • Far IR Interferometer (2006)
  • Cosmic Microwave Polarisation Mapper (2007)
  • Fundamental Physics Explorer (2008)

 


Last Update: 02 October 2017

For further information please contact: SciTech.editorial@esa.int

See Also